23 August 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗
One of the fun things a new player can do is consistently hit the ball hard. It’s like a clear signal that they have mastered, or at least gained some control over their body and racket. Hitting the ball hard also produces a beautiful sound, you can often walk into a club or squash facility and one person’s shots rise above the others. You probably know somebody like that, maybe that’s you!
Playing a hard and fast game is not only fun, but it is effective, at least at first. It often takes players time to adjust to the speed, but once they do, unless your shots are very tight and have great length, the benefit of power might be quickly lost. That’s where being able to hit softly with control comes in. As you obviously know, the court is longer than it is wide. Players get tired from moving forwards and backwards, less so than side to side.
One way I measure a player’s skill and playing level is to measure or at least estimate the difference between their hardest (fastest) shot and their softest (slowest) shot. At professional level, that difference is large. According to Guinness World Records, the fastest squash shot is 267 KPH (166 MPH). I don’t know exactly, but I bet most professionals could hit the ball at 210 KPH and just as importantly, probably hit the ball (WITH CONTROL!) at under 10 KPH – That’s a 200 KPH difference – PHEW!
As you lower the standard of player, the maximum speed that they can it consistently with power drops, but conversely the minimum speed at which they can hit consistently with control, increases. The difference between the two, reduces. At almost complete beginner level they might only be one speed at which the player can hit, so in some ways that difference is zero.
I’m pretty sure there is a mathematical term for this and hopefully somebody will remind me. Of course, your skill and level can’t e reduce to a simple number, but it is a good indication over basic ball control.
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Each one; the hard and the soft, enhance the other. Most club players focus almost entirely on the power aspect of the hitting and neglect the softer aspect. Spend time on court simply hitting the ball softly to improve your you touch and feel.
Play a conditioned game, where every shot you hit must be above the service line. At first, you might think it’s about simply pushing your opponents into the back corner, but as you play it, you begin to realise that you CAN draw them to the front by playing a very soft looping shot that if it stays close to the wall can cause them lots of problems. Over time, you can really move them forward, almost as much as a boast. It’s certainly strange and does require trying a few times until you really become good at it.
By all means, spend time increasing your power, but please don’t neglect your touch. They go hand in hand. Use this thinking to work your opponent around the court, especially front to back. Watch the video below for a practical way to improve your touch.